ZimParks rangers receive food hampers

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

A South African couple has donated 1 000 food hampers to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) rangers in Matabeleland North province, amid calls by conservationists for a bailout as the economic situation and coronavirus continues to ravage the country.

The donation, received by Bhejane Trust conservation task force, is meant to cover the rangers and their families for four months as they continue to fight against poaching.

“The donation was made by our long time conservation partners Pieter and Anthea Erasmus based in Cape Town,” Bhejane Trust founder Lane Lane said.

“The situation has been extremely tough for the rangers and other conservationists in the parks and we are in the process of starting to distribute the food hampers to them with hope that it is going to last them for some time.

“Their salaries have been affected by the shrinking economic situation and also worsened by Covid-19 so Zimparks has not been able to raise revenue through tourism and hunting yet they continue to work tirelessly to fight against poaching and wellbeing of the wildlife.”

Lane said even private conservationists in dire need of humanitarian assistance will benefit after going through vetting.

Parks stations to benefit include Zambezi and Katombora parks, Kazuma Pandamasuwe,Sinamatella and Robins parks in Hwange.

The hamper includes cooking oil, rice, flour, tinned baked beans, sugar, peanut butter and salt, among other necessities.

Lane said he was, however, lamented the challenges they faced trying to get the consignment cleared by the customs department.

“We had an extremely frustrating time dealing with Zimbabwe import bureaucracy. It took two and a half months and 41 permits to import these packs which are essentially Covid-19 relief. We even had to certify the peanut butter as non- Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Zimbabwe cannot certainly qualify as an investment friendly destination.”

Currently Lane said the rangers are battling to protect solar pumps and panels in the parks as they are being preyed on by the thieves.

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